Among the parade of devastating stories this year about cyberbullying and harassment—from the Steubenville rape trial to the gang-rape and suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons—there’s been one consistent theme: Kids aren’t just doing this to themselves, they’re being failed by adults who ought to be protecting them.
That’s why the story of Matt Labrum is so refreshing. The high school football coach in the tiny town of Roosevelt City, Utah, suspended his entire team last week, worried over their “lack of character” related to all kinds of bad behavior, from skipping classes to talking back in class to cyberbullying.
“It had gotten to a new level,” Labrum told the Deseret News.
“We felt like [they] weren’t respecting the teachers, what they were trying to do inside the school, other people’s time. Overall, our program wasn’t going where we wanted it to go. We weren’t reaching the young men like we wanted to reach them.”
So after their Friday night game on Sept. 20, Labrum announced there’d be quite the change the following week: First, he’d be taking all their jerseys. And instead of practice, they’d wash windows, attend study hall, and visit nursing homes. He even passed out a one page letter, describing his idea of an model high school football athlete:
We want student-athletes that are humble to learn and grow through adversity and success on and off the field. We want a team that others want to associate themselves with and support; winning isn’t the most important criteria for that to happen.
Winning didn’t happen this weekend. The kids took the field again last Friday. They lost 41-21. We can’t imagine a better way to lose.
Screengrab via FoxNews